Male-Only Bohemian Grove

#1
"Last week we learned that there's some new push back from the female-majority Sonoma County Board of Supervisors about providing County services, namely security by sheriff's deputies, to the male-only Bohemian Grove.

The annual, three-weekend retreat on a private compound in Monte Rio has been the stuff of legends — and conspiracy theories — for decades, and the event itself dates back to 1878. Planning for the Manhattan Project was said to have taken place there in 1942, and many ex-presidents and other statesmen have made appearances over the decades. But the fact that the Bohemian Club remains a men's club and this retreat doesn't allow women has always rubbed a couple current Sonoma supervisors the wrong way, with good reason. Supervisor Lynda Hopkins penned an open letter to the club's members and guests last week, pointing out, first of all, that all her male predecessors in the District 5 seat have been invited to the Grove, and for the first time, the supervisor of the district in which Monte Rio sits will not be allowed to attend.

But Hopkins goes on to rebut a number of popular talking points that have been raised to her regarding the Grove, not the least of which is when members try to downplay the bizarre, ritualistic nature of the activities at Bohemian Grove, which can be a bit more creepy than fratty.

To wit:

Stop trying to convince me that the Grove is totally normal. It’s not. It’s weird. But here’s the thing — I don’t have a problem with weird. So just be honest with me and admit that it’s weird. Try, “hey, I like to hang out with a bunch of powerful dudes in the redwoods and pee on trees and listen to music and hear famous men speak and burn effigies in weird little tent cities.” Because that sounds like West County Burning Man, and I can understand the appeal.

She also says that she's heard too many times that the Grove is just like any other same-sex club retreat, and it's decidedly not. "Other men’s and women’s groups don’t have international leaders flying in on private jets and helicopters to a secretive 2,700-acre compound," she writes.

At issue is whether the county's Board of Supervisors will approve a $150,000 contract for the Sheriff's Department to provide gate security for the compound, something it has done for the past 15 years, with the Grove reimbursing the County for their services. Both Hopkins and her colleague Shirlee Zane voted to take a look at legal issues with the contract — namely wording that suggested deputies would have to enforce Grove rules and policies, which include sex discrimination — and the contract has already been revised. They say that they may approve it in order not to deprive the deputies of an extra paycheck, but that doesn't mean it will always be approved in the future."

Below, Hopkins' open letter in full. It's an amusing read.  Big Grin

**Open Letter to Members & Guests of the Bohemian Grove**
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Bohemian Club member,

Hi. I’m the local elected official who represents West County, which includes the 2,700 acres’ worth of Bohemian Grove that you come to play in. I’ve never set foot on your property. I know you’ve hung out with all of my 5th District Supervisor predecessors at the Grove — but unlike them, I’m a woman. So I can’t come to your camp, which makes this a little awkward.

Let me start off by saying that I don’t think you’re a bad man. In fact, all of the men I know who are affiliated with the Grove are *good* men. Community-minded men. Caring men. And there are a lot of men I didn’t know were affiliated with the Grove — powerful people, influential people — who’ve been reaching out to me and my colleagues over the past few days advocating on the Grove’s behalf.

In case you are thinking of talking to me or anyone else about the Grove, I would like to offer some constructive suggestions. These points are all based on things that have been said to me over the past few days. May I suggest, when defending Grove activities in the face of renewed public scrutiny, that you might consider the following strategies:

1) Stop trying to convince me that the Grove is totally normal. It’s not. It’s weird. But here’s the thing — I don’t have a problem with weird. So just be honest with me and admit that it’s weird. Try, “hey, I like to hang out with a bunch of powerful dudes in the redwoods and pee on trees and listen to music and hear famous men speak and burn effigies in weird little tent cities.” Because that sounds like West County Burning Man, and I can understand the appeal.

2) I recommend against making the argument that the Grove is the same as any other same-sex social group. Other men’s and women’s groups don’t have international leaders flying in on private jets and helicopters to a secretive 2,700-acre compound. The Club prides itself on being elite, and having powerful and influential members and visitors, from Presidents and Supreme Court justices to political commentators. Yet when Bohos talk to me, they tend to sweep this fact under the rug. Meanwhile the Grove’s own job postings (currently online) brag, “Our attendees consist of business and political leaders from around the globe and yeah we're also talking about world class rock and roll, country, jazz and classical musicians and entertainers. It's pretty cool.”

3) There are other ways in which the Grove isn’t like other same-sex social groups. Many men’s groups come together for same-sex company, but don’t have rules that entirely prohibit females from occupying their property overnight, or disallow women from ever entering certain buildings or rooms. (I will admit that this is where you veer away from being the West County Burning Man. This kind of weird is a little less “fun/quirky/free-peeing weird,” and a little more “creepy/witch-trial weird.”)

4) It doesn’t really help your case to explain how — although women can’t become members — you allow women to work at the Grove. I get where you’re trying to go with this. You’re saying “Hey! We don’t prohibit women from occupying the property entirely!” But just to be clear, this means that **the only way women are allowed to engage with the Grove is to serve men.** That’s a little odd, right? I mean, try using this pickup line at a bar and see how far it gets you: “You can’t hang out with me as an equal, but you’re welcome to serve me drinks or food, park my car, or clean up after my mess. I’ll pay you $14/hour.” My guess is that proposition won’t go over too well with most women.

5) If, even after reading my previous admonition, you still want to tout the Grove’s equal employment opportunities for your currently listed $14-$17/hour jobs, I want you to know I’m aware that the decision to employ women wasn’t actually made by the Club membership. Rather, that decision was made for you by a judge in the 1980s. And the anti-discrimination Fair Employment case was actually appealed by the Club all the way to the Supreme Court. The Club lost, so a judge *forced* you to allow women to work at the Grove. In other words, you don’t really get to take credit for employing women, because you didn’t do that voluntarily. You can take credit for following the law when you were ordered to do so by a judge.

6) Telling me that you have a mother, a wife, or a daughter doesn’t make me automatically relate to you, nor does it make me automatically appreciate the Grove. Biologically speaking, we all have mothers. Being related to a woman does not make you an ally of women, just as having a black or brown cousin or gay or trans uncle does not make you an ally of people of color or the LGBTQI+ community. Your actions do that. Not your marriage status or family ties.

You may have gathered that I’ve heard a lot about the Grove over the past few days. And as I’ve listened to various arguments, two words — both Greek in origin — come to mind. One word is “anachronism,” which literally means “backwards in time.” The other word is “hegemony,” a word with an ugly mouthfeel which comes from the Greek “hegemon,” which means the dominant city-state.

That’s what the Bohemian Grove seems like to me. It’s a flashback to an era when powerful men were the only dominant political paradigm, when only men could vote, when only men could have bank accounts and sign checks and pay bills. The Club has been around for 150 years. A lot has changed in that time. But the Club hasn’t. I think that’s what makes it so great for members, and so utterly incomprehensible to the rest of us.

I know, I know... by discussing issues of equality, I’m veering dangerously close to sounding like an “angry woman” in this letter. But I’m not anti-man. I respect your right to assemble. I don’t care if you enjoy weird things; quite frankly I don’t give a damn if you enjoy getting drunk and peeing on trees with other dudes. (I know I keep bringing up the peeing, but I do so because it’s one of the only Grove behaviors publicly confirmed in court record. The right to urinate freely out of sight of females was a hotly litigated part of the 1981 court case, and was presented as justification by the Grove not to hire female employees. So I can only conclude that peeing freely is important to you, and a critical reason for not including women.)

I find it extremely interesting that, even though the Grove is in my Supervisorial District, I’ve heard of more phone calls regarding the Grove being directed to male elected officials. Because, you know, it’s easier for a guy to talk to another guy about why the Grove is ok than it is to talk to a woman about it. Because there’s some comfort and ease in talking to someone of the same gender. It’s a little more challenging to talk about sensitive issues — particularly sexism — with someone of the opposite sex.

Which is exactly why it is so hard to get into politics as a woman. Because politics are still dominated by men, and women are less likely to be mentored by men, because we’re less likely to golf, hang out in men’s circles or be part of men’s clubs. We weren’t part of your frat. We’re not bros.

Which is also why the Grove has always bothered me. Because it IS the “hegemon,” and it ISN’T an “anachronism.” The Grove is how the world of politics continues to function today: a world of relationships that are more easily accessed by men. 150 years after the Grove was founded, we women can vote and own property and pay our own bills, but when it comes to politics, it’s still a man’s world. (Just ask the first female President of the United States, and the first female Governor of California.)

As I wrap up this letter, I want to be very direct with you. I don’t hate the Grove. I don’t want to shut it down. I do, however, wish the Grove were just a little bit more self-aware. I wish you would reach out to women leaders the way you reach out to male leaders, and that — if you are not in fact going to grant women the same opportunity to participate as men — that you consider supporting female empowerment in other ways. I wish the Club supported the lower Russian River community more. Sure, they donate to a few causes, but considering the wealth and influence of the 3,000+ attendees, it could be a lot more. (For instance, how about funding an additional Sheriff’s deputy for the lower River year-round to broadly enhance public safety? How about working with me to tackle homelessness in the lower River?) The Grove is part of a paradigm that has disempowered women for hundreds of years. The most powerful thing you can do is to acknowledge that fact — and as you continue to have your fun in the redwoods, try to do other things in your life to help out those who aren’t “lucky enough” (either anatomically or socially speaking) to be members of your precious Club.

On that note, Grove member, maybe we could get together sometime. The best way to break down boundaries is to shake hands. Maybe someday you’ll collectively decide that shaking a woman’s hand under the redwood trees isn’t so different from shaking a man’s.

Take care,

Lynda

PS — The Grove/Sheriff’s contract was pulled from our consent calendar on Tuesday due to legal questions that were initially raised by my colleague Shirlee Zane. And in fact, County Counsel has already recognized that the previous contract language was not appropriate because it required Sheriff’s deputies to enforce Bohemian Club rules and policies. *This means that Sheriff’s deputies technically could have been tasked with enforcing discrimination against women.* That is absolutely not acceptable. The contract has already been amended to clarify that the deputies are tasked with enforcing state and county laws, not Grove policy, and we are still awaiting additional legal review on other outstanding questions.

https://sfist.com/2019/06/09/sonoma-coun...ian-grove/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_Grove
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#2
Quote:Maybe someday you’ll collectively decide that shaking a woman’s hand under the redwood trees isn’t so different from shaking a man’s.
Hmm. This is just very difficult. Honestly, how similar is it really? You shake a guy's hand and maybe later you go out and and get drunk together. You shake a woman's hand and go out and get drunk together at your peril.
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#3
(Jun 15, 2019 11:39 PM)confused2 Wrote:
Quote:Maybe someday you’ll collectively decide that shaking a woman’s hand under the redwood trees isn’t so different from shaking a man’s.
Hmm. This is just very difficult. Honestly, how similar is it really? You shake a guy's hand and maybe later you go out and and get drunk together. You shake a woman's hand and go out and get drunk together at your peril.

Is that right, C2? Well, according to President Nixon, same shit-same sex. 

The Club motto is "Weaving Spiders Come Not Here", which implies that outside concerns and business deals (networking) are to be left outside. When gathered in groups, Bohemians usually adhere to the injunction, although discussion of business often occurs between pairs of members. Important political and business deals have been developed at the Grove. The Grove is particularly famous for a Manhattan Project planning meeting that took place there in September 1942, which subsequently led to the atomic bomb. Those attending this meeting included Ernest Lawrence, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the S-1 Executive Committee heads, such as the presidents of Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, along with representatives of Standard Oil and General Electric as well as various military officials. At the time, Oppenheimer was not an S-1 member, although Lawrence and Oppenheimer hosted the meeting. Grove members take particular pride in this event and often relate the story to new attendees. However, other behavior at this famous campground has led to numerous claims and even some parody in popular culture. One such documented example was former president Richard Nixon's comments from a May 13, 1971 recording that: "The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time — it is the most faggy goddamned thing you could ever imagine."  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_Grove

"But it isn’t just the ratty part of town. The upper class of San Francisco is that way. The Bohemian Grove, which I attend from time to time—is the most faggy goddamn thing that you could ever imagine from that San Francisco crowd that goes in there.  It’s just terrible! I mean I won’t shake hands with anybody from San Francisco."


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iu3f5KBpkAw
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#4
And? If they're rich and can reimburse the county anyway, then it's just a courtesy to spend that money with locals (who will spend it locally, making the county tax revenue) rather than bring in private security...which would enforce their rules and policies without any push back.

In January 1981, an administrative law judge issued a decision supporting the practices of the Club, noting that club members at the Grove "urinate in the open without even the use of rudimentary toilet facilities" and that the presence of females would alter club members' behavior.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_Grove#Women


But if female employees don't mind, and more importantly don't have legal standing to sue over it...
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#5
Me Wrote:Hmm. This is just very difficult. Honestly, how similar is it really? You shake a guy's hand and maybe later you go out and and get drunk together. You shake a woman's hand and go out and get drunk together at your peril.

SS Wrote:..

Sorry, still not convinced it is the same.

"I like your perfume.".
"I'm not wearing any perfume.".
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#6
(Jun 16, 2019 01:08 AM)confused2 Wrote: Sorry, still not convinced it is the same.

"I like your perfume.".
"I'm not wearing any perfume.".

Well, you read too many romance novels.



(Jun 16, 2019 01:07 AM)Syne Wrote: And? If they're rich and can reimburse the county anyway, then it's just a courtesy to spend that money with locals (who will spend it locally, making the county tax revenue) rather than bring in private security...which would enforce their rules and policies without any push back.

In January 1981, an administrative law judge issued a decision supporting the practices of the Club, noting that club members at the Grove "urinate in the open without even the use of rudimentary toilet facilities" and that the presence of females would alter club members' behavior.
- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bohemian_Grove#Women


But if female employees don't mind, and more importantly don't have legal standing to sue over it...

And you don't read.

Quote:However, the judge's decision was overruled by the State Fair Employment and Housing Commission, which on October 17, 1981, ordered the Club to begin recruiting and hiring women as employees.

In 1984, the Bohemian Club went to the Supreme Court of California over the issue, arguing that their freedom of association was being harmed; the Court found against the Club and denied a review in 1987, forcing the Club to begin hiring female workers during the summer encampment at the Grove in Monte Rio.This ruling became quoted as a legal precedent and was discussed during the 1995–1996 floor debate surrounding California Senate Bill SB 2110 (Maddy), a proposed bill concerning whether tax-exempt organizations (including fraternal clubs) should be exempt from the Unruh Civil Rights Act.
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#7
SS is projecting again. Rolleyes

Nowhere in any legal case requiring them to hire female employees does it say that those employees have legal standing to sue over expose to "normal" club member behavior.

Pay attention before going off half-cocked, deary.
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#8
(Jun 15, 2019 11:05 PM)Secular Sanity Wrote: . . . But Hopkins goes on to rebut a number of popular talking points that have been raised to her regarding the Grove, not the least of which is when members try to downplay the bizarre, ritualistic nature of the activities at Bohemian Grove, which can be a bit more creepy than fratty.


Its incrementally developing eccentric practices, ceremonies, and festive events surely couldn't be any weirder than those of the Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn. But in contrast, the latter did accept women members on an equal basis apparently soon after its establishment in 1887. (I guess the summer encampment[s] of Bohemian Grove began circa 9 years earlier.) Which is to say: Freakish behavior and mystical slash occult rites don't have to exclusively require a fraternal nature to maintain them (as long as such private "clubs" are successfully shielded from elevated sensibilities of the public, whether the puritanical ones of old or the online vigilantism of today).

A Masonic scholar was among those who passed down the Cipher Manuscripts which the Order of Golden Dawn was eventually erected upon, and the original founders were apparently Freemasons. "...there was an insistence on women being allowed to participate in the Order in 'perfect equality' with men, which was in contrast to the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.) and Masonry."

Among the most notable female members of the Order were Florence Farr, Annie Horniman, Moina Mathers, and Maud Gonne.

The Order of Golden Dawn diverged or broke up eventually into four societies or temples: Isis-Urania Temple, Alpha et Omega, Stella Matutina, and Aleister Crowley's A∴A∴.
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#9
(Jun 16, 2019 03:39 AM)Syne Wrote: SS is projecting again. Rolleyes

Nowhere in any legal case requiring them to hire female employees does it say that those employees have legal standing to sue over expose to "normal" club member behavior.

Pay attention before going off half-cocked, deary.

Yeah, but you left out the part about it being over ruled. There are plenty of jobs that require you to be comfortable with nudity, deary.



(Jun 16, 2019 06:08 AM)C C Wrote: Its incrementally developing eccentric practices, ceremonies, and festive events surely couldn't be any weirder than those of the Hermetic Order of Golden Dawn. But in contrast, the latter did accept women members on an equal basis apparently soon after its establishment in 1887. (I guess the summer encampment[s] of Bohemian Grove began circa 9 years earlier.) Which is to say: Freakish behavior and mystical slash occult rites don't have to exclusively require a fraternal nature to maintain them (as long as such private "clubs" are successfully shielded from elevated sensibilities of the public, whether the puritanical ones of old or the online vigilantism of today).  

A Masonic scholar was among those who passed down the Cipher Manuscripts which the Order of Golden Dawn was eventually erected upon, and the original founders were apparently Freemasons. "...there was an insistence on women being allowed to participate in the Order in 'perfect equality' with men, which was in contrast to the Societas Rosicruciana in Anglia (S.R.I.A.) and Masonry."

Among the most notable female members of the Order were Florence Farr, Annie Horniman, Moina Mathers, and Maud Gonne.

The Order of Golden Dawn diverged or broke up eventually into four societies or temples: Isis-Urania Temple, Alpha et Omega, Stella Matutina, and Aleister Crowley's A∴A∴.

That’s interesting, C C. I didn’t know that.  So that’s how the whole Crowley thing got started, eh? There’s a lot of weird stuff here. We have a weird Temple of Isis thing, too. This area is notorious for weird crap, e.g., the Peoples Temple, etc.

Here’s a list of the plays performed at the grove.

You can also scroll through this book with a few pictures and read about the Bohemian Jinks. It’s interesting.

When my boys were young, my youngest came running into the house crying because the older boys wouldn’t let him into their secret club. The girls were out front and saw what happened. They knocked on the door and told him that they had a better club. The father of one was contractor and built them a cool little clubhouse. They made him a necklace and dubbed him an honorary member. They had snacks and all sorts of activities for him. That entire summer was full out war. The boys were jealous and tried to recruit him to back into their club but he declined. They spent the entire summer trying to destroy their clubhouse, complete with covert operations and everything. They still talk about it.

"Weaving spiders come not here"

Screw that! Nothing wrong networking, right? Can you imagine a similar situation, where each summer the most rich and powerful women meet, and choose only a handful of men as honorary members, but with the motto of…

"Where webs are weaved"

Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!
 Big Grin
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#10
SS Wrote:Well, you read too many romance novels.

The local charity shops don't have much else.
Besides, fact is almost as strange as fiction - think Clinton and Delilah .
Our (ex) prime minister and Edwina Currie
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/2286008.stm
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